SAM Magazine—Broomfield, Colo., March 15, 2021—Vail Resorts (VR) saw year-over-year business levels improve during January and February, with season-to-date visits down 8.2 percent through March 7 compared to the prior year. Lift revenues declined 8.9 percent for the period, while ski school, food and beverage, and retail/rental revenues declined more dramatically. The data were released as part of VR's second quarter financial report, which showed a 28 percent drop in net revenue for the three-month period ended Jan. 31, 2021.
VR noted that last year's visits for the period through early March were also impacted by Covid-19; visits started to fall off in late February and early March, 2020, before resorts nationwide eventually closed for the season during the middle of March.
While visits were relatively strong through March 7, 2021, some departments saw steep declines. Ski school revenue was down 43.2 percent; dining revenue, down 56.9 percent; and retail/rental, down 31.6 percent.
Those declines were reflected in VR's second quarter financial report, which includes business for the three months ended January 31, 2021. VR's net income dropped 28 percent, to $148 million. Resort EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) was $276 million for the quarter, compared to $378 million in the 2020 second quarter.
"We maintained disciplined cost controls throughout the quarter as we operated the business at reduced capacity," Katz said. "Resort reported EBITDA margin for the fiscal 2021 second quarter was 40.3 percent, compared to the prior year period of 40.9 percent, while resort net revenue decreased $240.1 million over the same period."
"Total visitation across our North American destination mountain resorts and regional ski areas was only down approximately 5 percent compared to the same period in the prior year," said VR CEO Rob Katz. "As we moved past the peak holiday period, which was constrained by capacity limitations driven by both COVID-19 and below average snow conditions, we saw improved results in January, particularly with lift ticket sales."
Speaking of lift tickets: VR achieved 20 percent growth in unit sales of Epic Passes for fiscal year 2021, Katz said. He added that passholders accounted for 71 percent of visits in the fiscal second quarter, compared to 59 percent in Q2 2020. VR will launch its Epic Pass sales for the 2021-22 season on March 23.
Katz noted that VR plans to fully open its summer operations in North America "around our typical opening dates, with certain capacity constraints associated with COVID-19."